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Aug 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

The Five Steps in Risk Assessment

The five steps in risk assessment are identifying hazards in the workplace, identifying who might be harmed by the hazards and taking reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce the risks, recording your findings, and reviewing and updating your risk assessment regularly.

1. Identifying hazards in your workplace

The first step in risk assessment is identifying hazards. You must identify things in your workplace which pose a risk to the health and safety of staff or visitors. Walk around your premises to consider what could potentially cause a hazard and consult with staff about what they think the risks are.

When performing a general risk assessment, you should look for risks such as:

Slip and trip hazards like deliveries not put away, loose flooring, spillages, etc.

  • Electrical equipment
  • Fire hazards
  • Risks associated with manual handling or lifting
  • Environmental issues, such as ventilation, temperature, or noise levels
  • General maintenance risks, such as damaged or defective equipment, storage, cleaning supplies, or presence of vermin or pests
  • Risks associated with workstations
  • Working at height or objects falling from a height
  • Risks caused by visitors to the workplace
  • Lone working

You must keep an open mind to any risks specific to your industry and premises.

2. Identify who might be at risk

Secondly, you have to identify any particular group of staff whose health and safety is at risk due to the work they do. For example, warehouse workers might be particularly at risk of falls from height or things falling on them, whereas your office staff are more likely to be affected by poorly arranged workstations.

Additionally, sometimes a group of people will be at risk due to a shared characteristic, rather than the nature of their roles, e.g., pregnant women or young people. For example, if you employ any women of child-bearing age, the nature of the work could involve a particular risk to a new or expectant mother or her baby. These risks must be considered in the general risk assessment.

3. Taking steps to reduce or remove the risks

As part of your risk assessment, you must decide what to do about the hazards and risks you uncover, and take action to deal with them.

You must get rid of any hazards that you can and try to reduce the risks posed by any that you cannot remove.

Some suggestions on how to reduce or remove hazards in the workplace include:

  • Changing the design or layout of your workplace
  • Providing different or better work equipment, including any protective equipment
  • Having better premises or a better equipment maintenance regime
  • Providing better welfare facilities, e.g., rest breaks

4. Keeping written records

If you employ more than five people, you are legally required to keep written records of your risk assessments. If you have less than five employees, you do not have to write anything down, however, it is good practice to always keep a record of your risk assessments in writing so you can refer to them if needed.

5. Reviewing your risk assessment

As soon as you become an employer you should perform a general risk assessment. You are then legally required to review and renew your general risk assessment if it is no longer valid or if there have been changes to anything that is covered.

As business changes over time, you should regularly review and update your risk assessment. Annual reviews are common for most businesses.


Related Articles: 

How to Conduct a Risk Assessment for Remote Workers


Posted in Health & Safety, Staff Handbook


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